Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

their posterity; but he said that it would exalt themselves. Self, as an object of supreme regard, was now brought distinctly before them : And out of supreme regard to themselves, they disobeyed God :they took of the fruit and did eat: And men out of Christ, have regarded themselves supremely ever since. But if any man be in Christ, he is, in this respect, a new creature. He no longer regards himself supremely, but Jehovah. He has the same God that Adam had before his apostacy. Mark the change when man apostatized. Before, he loved Jehovah supremely : after, himself. Mark the change when a man becomes a new creature. Before, he loves himself supremely: after, Jehovah. Great change: from loving supremely the creature, to loving supremely the Creator. He has a new God.

II. He has a new object of pursuit.

It is a fundamental principle of human action, that every man will seek to please his own God. The man who is in Christ, having changed his God, changes of course his object of pursuit. Before, his object was to exalt and gratify himself. Now, his object is to please and glorify Jehovah. The man may continue in the same worldly employment, if a lawsul one, in which he was before ; and he may do many of the same things, with his hands, which he did before ; but he has in view a totally different object ;-not his own exaltation, but the glory of God, and the spiritual, eternal happiness of men. God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined into his heart, and given him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He is not his own, he is bought with a price; and his feelings respond to his duty ;-glorify God, in body and spirit which are His. Whether he eats or drinks, or whatever he does, his grand, ruling object is, to do all to the glory of God. Hence,

III. He adopts a new rule of action.

It is another law of human action, that every man will adopt such a rule as he thinks will accomplish his object. The man who is in Christ, having changed his grand object of pursuit, changes, of course, His rule of action. Before, his rule was to do those things, and those only, which he thought would elevate himself ; or in some way promote his own advantage. Now, his rule is to do those things, and those only, which God declares will glorify Him, and promote the happiness of

His holy kingdom. His own will was the rule of action before ; now, the revealed will of God. And when his own will comes into competition with the will of God, his language is, Not my will, but thine be done. This is the habitual desire of his heart. And he exhibits it, not in words only, but in actions. For,

IV. He lives a new life:

:-a life of faith on the Son of God, who loved him, and gave Himself for him.

This faith is that confidence in Christ, which leads the man to feel that what He hath said is true; and to treat it as true. Henee he looks principally, not at things seen and temporal; but at things unseen and eternal. He lays up his treasure, not on the earth, but in Heaven; and seeks those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. The love of Christ constrains him to live, not unto himself, but unto Him that died for him and rose again. I do not mean by this that he is perfectly holy. He still commits sin ; but he loathes himself on account of it, and repents as in dust and ashes. He will not continue to indulge in what he knows to be sin; nor will he continue to neglect what he knows to be duty. He seeks by prayer and supplication to know what duty is; and he listens to the voice of God in revelation, that he may understand, for the purpose of doing it: and, so far as he knows, he has respect to all His commandments.

This obedience to the divine commands, springs from new views, and is prompted by new feelings. These views and feelings, as the grand spring of outward obedience, I shall briefly illustrate with regard to five particulars, viz. God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, himself, and his fellow men.

He has new views and feelings with regard to God. Before, 'he never saw any peculiar beauty, excellence, and glory in the character of God; especially in his holiness, justice, and truth. He never saw any reason why he should love God, any farther than he thought that God loved him; and would ultimately favour his cause. His soul never was chained by the splendours of the Eternal throne; nor was it ever enraptured with the beauty of the holiness of Him that sits upon it. He never had such views of the glory of God, as to be changed into His image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

But now he sees a beauty, a loveliness, an excellence, and a glory in God, surpassing the lustre of all creation. Not that the man has become blind to created glories : he loves his friends, and all his fellow men, more than he ever loved them before ; and with a more pure and exalted affection. If any of them are holy, he sees a beauty and excellence in their character, which he never saw before ; and he delights in it. But when he looks on God, though at a distance, and through a glass darkly, created excellence dies. The glories even of Gabriel, and of all created intelligences, are swallowed up and lost in the overflowing glories of the Godhead; and he cries, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon the earth that I desire beside thee."

Before, he had no confidence in God. When disappointed in his favourite plans,—when his dearest earthly prospects were blasted,—it gave him no comfort to think, that God had done it. Now, though the fig-tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit in the vine; the labour of the olive fail, and the fields yield no meat; though the flocks be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stall; he will rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of his salvation.

He did not, before, feel safe in God's hands. When his conscience was awakened, and he was led to feel his guilt; and also to feel that all his interests for time and eternity were in the hands of God, and His disposal, he was distressed. Now, he wishes to be no where else. He surrenders himself, his friends, and all his interests, for both worlds, into the hands of God, and chooses to have them for ever at His disposal. So long as he can say, “ The Lord reigneth,” he will add, “ Let earth rejoice.” And the more deeply he feels that His kingdom extends over all, the greater his joy, till it becomes unspeakable, and full of glory.

He

may have thought, before, that God was a respecter of persons, and been ready, at times, to charge Him with partiality. He may have lived in a place, visited by the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit; may have seen his friends and acquaintances awakened from the slumbers of moral death; and brought out of darkness into marvellous light. He may have seen their joy, and heard their songs; while he, after long, distressing anxiety, and many tears, may have been still in darkness and the shadow of death; groaning in dismal horrors of conscience, and fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation ;

under a load of guilt, which was pressing him downward toward eternal despair. In this situation, he may have thought that God was hard, partial, a respecter of persons; and been almost ready to curse his God and King, and look upward. But the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, breaks in upon him, and he cries, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and of earth : Even so, Father, for so it hath seemed good in thy sight-Bless the Lord in all places of his dominion: Bless the Lord, O my soul.”

He has new views and feelings with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ. He may have viewed Jesus Christ as an excellent character, before; and made mention of Him in his prayers, when he prayed. And he did, perhaps, sometimes pray ;-in a thunder-storm, when the lightning blazed around him; or in time of sickness, when he stood over the bed of his dying friend; or when, at midnight, he anticipated his own death, and the coming judgment. When he felt in danger, when death and eternity seemed to be nigh, he attempted to pray; and he not unfrequently made mention of the name of Christ; but he had no view of His divine, transcendent glory. He saw no reason why angels should veil their faces, cast down their crowns, fall prostrate, and worship Him. Perhaps he thought him to be only a man; or at most an exalted creature. But he is now the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. He is the Alpha and Omega; the Beginning and the End, which is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty. He is over all, God blessed for ever. He is also partaker of human nature; and can be touched with the feeling of human infirmity. He is the Propitiation for sins ;-for our sins, and for the sins of the whole world. He is the End of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. He is an Advocate with the Father, the believer's Life. Take away his Divine Saviour,you take

away his only hope. He has no access to God; no deliverer from sin; no Saviour from perdition. In the agony of guilt, he sees no way in which God can be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly.

But the glories of Immanuel break forth on Calvary, with a brightness which puts out the sun; and in that light, he sees that God can be just, and yet the justifier of every one that believeth. And in view of the length, and the breadth, and the height of that love which passeth knowledge, he feels that He will do it; and he sings, Alleluia, salvation, and honour, and glory to the Lord our God. Such an High Priest became us, who is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, higher than the heavens, and able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him: This is all my salvation, and all my desire.

He has new views and feelings with regard to the Holy Ghost. He had probably heard that there was a Holy Ghost, before ; but, perhaps, he did not believe it. Or if he did believe it, he knew next to nothing about Him. He never felt in perishing need of the Holy Ghost. He felt as if he could pray, and give to the poor, keep the Sabbath, pay his honest debts, and do many other things, in a manner acceptable to God, without the influences of the Holy Ghost. But he now feels that without Him he shall do nothing acceptable ; and rejoices that God will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. He knows by experience what this means, - The Spirit helpeth our infirmities.” And he knows what this means," God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” - The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” The man who is in Christ feels deeply his need, not only of a Redeemer, but a Sanctifier; One who can enlighten his understanding, purify and elevate his affections, and prepare him to be presented spotless and faultless before the throne of Divine glory, with exceeding and everlasting joy. He has already experienced of the exceeding greatness of His power, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead. Had it not been for the Holy Ghost, he had been to this day impenitent, unbelieving, dead in trespasses and sins; going downward toward eternal death. He knows this, he feels it, and in the feelings of his heart cries, To Him be the glory. God, he says, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts. God, who is rich in mercy, for IIis great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. We are His workmanship, created anew, in Christ Jesus, unto good works.

He has new views and feelings with regard to himself. Before, he thought himself to be as good as others ;—as good, at heart, as many professors of religion ; and vastly better than some. When he compared himself with other men, as he often did, especially with some professors of religion, he felt himself to be almost good enough. Instead of crying, God be merciful to me a sinner ; he felt more like saying, I thank thee that I am not as other men. He had no idea that his

« ElőzőTovább »